Thousands of our Mansfield forbears would have worked for Herbert John Greenhalgh, his father before him, or one of his children after him. Herbert was born in 1819 at Nottingham to Richard and Sarah Greenhalgh. Richard brought his family to Mansfield in the early 1830s where he leased Stanton Mill on Bath Lane . He and his family took up residence only a short walk away on Windmill Lane .
In the 1840s Richard further leased Field Mill. Herbert married Emma Anne Leavers of Nottingham in 1848 and set up residence at Bath Vale House, Bath Lane , Mansfield whilst the main family residence was Carr Bank. Although there appears to be no evidence of Herbert indulging in formal Further Education he was a first class scholar and had a good knowledge of many and varied subjects which he had gained locally at the Grove House Academy .
His wife gave birth to five children; all sons. Richard, the father, died in 1860 and Herbert took over the control of the Mills although his older brother Ernest became the major share holder. In the next decade the family added ‘Little Matlock Mill’ on Sheepbridge Lane to the list of their Mansfield holdings.
The mills were originally powered by water from the river Maun with Field Mill having possibly the largest water wheel in the country. It was 40 feet in diameter, 10 feet wide and possessing 124 buckets. The mills were either cotton doubling or thread manufacturing. The majority of the finished product had a ready market in the immediate vicinity. Before the purchase of Little Matlock Mill, Herbert is listed on the 1861 census as employing 382 people (59 men, 221 women, 82 girls and 20 boys).
Herbert was by all accounts a true gentleman, being a kind and considerate employer. Upon the occasion of his silver wedding anniversary over 500 sat down to dinner. The employees presented him and his wife with an illuminated address which, according to “The Advertiser” “expressed gratitude and admiration for Mr Greenhalgh’s large hearted generosity and kindly consideration and a hope that their relationship as employer and employed and the good feeling which had hitherto existed might continue.”
Herbert was a keen sportsman although he didn’t excel at any particular sport. He was however a prominent member of the Mansfield Game Association. With his sporting interest he encouraged his employees to join his Field Mill football club. After a while he had established a team, under his own name which played in the local league. Later the team became known as the Sherwood Rangers and in 1894 they merged with another local team, which in turn became the forerunner of the current Mansfield Town Football Club. Four of his own sons actually played football for Notts County and Ernest Harwood not only excelled at athletics but he played for England in the first ever England verse Scotland football match.
He involved himself very much in the community and undertook many public offices which he filled gracefully and diligently including: Being a member of the board of improvement commissioners (forerunner of the Borough council). He served at one time as the chairman at the Mansfield Board of Guardians where he always ensured the generous treatment of the poor. At the time at his death he sat on four committees including the Poultry Society where he served as vice-president.
Being a keen gardener he became a member of the Horticultural society and allowed the society to hold their annual show immediately in front at his home which towards the latter end of his life had become Carr Bank.
He died at the age of 77 in 1897 at the family home. The local news papers said that the cold weather had induced an attack of’ asthma and bronchitis; with further complications affecting his heart. He is recorded as dieing of Cardiac Syncope on the 16th March. The Advertiser starts its obituary by saying “Readers will join with us in regret at the somewhat sudden death of a respected old townsman.” Those last few words sum up his life and character.
This article was originally written for the Chad in 1992, who have given their permission for its reproduction on this website.